July 17th, 2003

(no subject)

Well, I'm looking at a very busy, very hot four day weekend starting tomorrow. Every year, LDRS (Large Dangerous Rocket Ships) is the biggest amateur rocket launch in the world. Places have to bid in order to host it. Last year was Amarillo, TX. Next year might be Las Vegas. Well, this year it's about 45 minutes south of me. Miah is a big amateur rocket guy and he's gotten me pretty interested in it. I've met a couple of his friends that he knows through the hobby. I won't be flying anything, but I'm definitely going. Miah also (I believe) got me a press pass, so I'll be shooting lots of photos. Actually, it starts today and the last day is Tuesday, but I didn't want to use four days of vacation for it.

To give you an idea of the scale of this event - relatively speaking, it's a small thing. Only the hard-core hobbyists, their friends and family, and vendors for food, drinks, and rocket supplies will be there. There will be less than 1000 people on the site. However, that's a hell of a lot more than the usual 50 or so that usually show up for one of the local launches. People are coming from all over the country, even Alaska, and one team from Sweden.

Many of the motors that these guys will be using to fly their rockets require you to fill out ATF paperwork in order to buy, sell, possess, or transport that quantity of rocket propellant. Also, Tripoli (the sanctioning body governing the event) has to work with the FAA to obtain a waiver for the event. This basically means that aircraft are required to fly around the area, not through it. (No fun to be in a small plane and have a hole blasted through the wing by a rocket traveling at mach 3.) Can you imagine that though? You're flying along, you look out the window, and there's an amateur rocket, arcing over, as it reaches apogee it separates into two pieces connected by a tether with a drogue chute on it,

then it disappears back down out of sight. The entire weekend has a waiver for flights up to 25,000 feet, and there will be a couple small windows which will allow flights up to 34,500 feet. Yes, that's the altitude that commercial jets fly at. Yes, I'm serious about mach three.

You starting to get an idea why this is interesting?

Some rockets use one motor. Some use combinations. Some light all motors on the pad, some will air start motors (launch, then fire a few more, then fire a few more). They use computerized altimeters to record all the flight characteristics. They use said altimeters to determine when to deploy the recovery system (parachute). Some people even mount video cameras facing the ground.

Here's a still from one of those videos:

Let me tell you, watching one of those videos, when you see just how FAST these things get off the ground, it's pretty intense.

A perfect flight is one where the rocket comes back down and is completely recoverable - as in, you get a new motor and put it back together and you can fly it again, no damage.

Of course, it's always fun when rockets explode on the pad or shred 100 feet off the ground or fail to deploy the parachute and lawn dart into the ground.

Miah's rocket is about 20 feet tall. There will be some rockets that are wayyyy bigger than that. One guy is building a 3/4 scale patriot missile.

(it's big)

And I haven't even mentioned the competition to fly bowling balls.
  • Current Music
    Gatecrasher Resident Transmission 02 - CD3 mixed by Scott Bond and Matt Hardwick B2B (D I G I T A L

(no subject)

god dammit... I'm so excited about this launch that I don't know how I'm going to get any work done, and now Miah just called me from the launch site and I could hear a rocket going up in the background... that's just what I needed...

(no subject)

Oh yeah - and the Discovery Channel is filming a special at the rocket launch.
  • Current Music
    DJ Irish - Assorted Trance Vol. 10 (D I G I T A L L Y - I M P O R T E D - European Trance, Techno, H